March 24, 2009
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR REACHES NEW AUDIENCE HIGH,
AS LISTENERS SEEK IN-DEPTH NEWS ON ELECTION, ECONOMY

33 MILLION LISTEN TO NPR MEMBER STATIONS WEEKLY;
ALL NPR NEWS PROGRAMS SET AUDIENCE RECORDS

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED JUMPS 15% TO 13 MILLION WEEKLY;
MORNING EDITION FIRST PUBLIC RADIO PROGRAM TO TOP 14 MILLION; TALK OF THE NATION INCREASES LISTENING BY 21%;
FRESH AIR FIRST MIDDAY SHOW TO TOP 5 MILLION

March 24, 2009; Washington, D.C. – Following an unprecedented year in news dominated by the presidential election and global economic crisis, listening to NPR programming on NPR Member stations reached new highs according to just-released Arbitron ratings for Fall 2008*. NPR programming now reaches 27.5 million listeners weekly, representing 7% year over year growth. Total listening to NPR stations grew by 6 percent to reach a high of 32.7 million listeners weekly. Many individual stations also posted record high audiences during this ratings period.

The latest ratings continue steady audience growth on NPR and the stations since 2000, and bolster public radio’s standing as audiences seek in-depth news and information on the issues that matter most. NPR is uniquely positioned to deliver top-tier national and international reporting from its 36 bureaus and offices around the world, and local coverage produced by more than 270 independent NPR Member public radio stations across the country.

“People are turning to NPR and public radio now more than ever to better understand our increasingly chaotic world,” said Vivian Schiller, President & CEO of NPR. “In this time of turmoil in the media, NPR and the Member stations are able to offer listeners journalism of unparalleled quality, whether it’s untangling the financial crisis, reporting from areas of unrest at home and abroad, or connecting listeners with news in their communities.”

In addition to the overall audience records, NPR’s newsmagazines and many other programs set new highs. All Things Considered increased its audience by 15% over the previous year to rise from 11.5 million to 13 million listeners weekly – becoming the second NPR newsmagazine to top 13 million. Morning Edition reached nearly 14 million listeners weekly, 9% above Fall 2007 numbers. The midday call-in program Talk of the Nation had remarkable gains, increasing 21% to reach 3.5 million listeners weekly. Similarly, NPR’s newest program Tell Me More with Michel Martin was added to more stations in major markets, boosting its audience totals by 45% over the year. Weekend Edition and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! also set new audience records.

Programs produced by Member stations and distributed nationally by NPR also showed major audience upswings in the Fall 2008 survey. Fresh Air from WHYY in Philadelphia became the first non drive-time show in public radio to better 5 million weekly listeners, a 13% increase over last year’s figures. The Diane Rehm Show, produced by WAMU in Washington, D.C., set a new record audience for the fifth consecutive national survey. On Point and Only a Game, both from WBUR in Boston, as well as WNYC’s On the Media also achieved new audience highs.

The Fall 2008 Arbitron ratings report measures listening from September 18 to December 10, 2008 – a standout period of reporting and programming from NPR. During this period, NPR News offered in-depth election coverage on-air and online, including more than 120 hours of special live coverage of the primaries, conventions and debates, culminating in a 12-hour broadcast on election night. All Things Considered and Morning Edition partnered to host a series of candid conversations about race from York, PA; Talk of the Nation held debate listening parties and discussions with audiences in battleground states; and the wide-ranging “Memo to the President” series addressed the issues facing the new president, and his choices. NPR’s “Planet Money” project, launched this fall, has become a hugely popular source for clear, understandable coverage of the global economic crisis, unraveling the mysteries of the economy on air and online. NPR continued its emphasis on coverage beyond America’s borders, keeping 18 foreign bureaus fully staffed in order to bring listeners news from Baghdad, Kabul, Iran, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Darfur, China and Mexico City.

This period was also a time of editorial expansion of NPR.org, which translated into marked audience growth on web and mobile platforms. The 2008 election season drove significant traffic growth throughout the year, resulting in a 32% increase in average monthly unique visitors from 2007 to 2008 as measured by Nielsen Online. During the height of the election season, NPR Mobile – a partnership between NPR and Member stations offering localized mobile content – saw in excess of 2 million monthly page views according to NPR internal measures.

*Source: ACT 1 based on Arbitron Nationwide, Fall 2008, Total US, Persons 12+, Monday-Sunday 6am-12midnight.